Horne's map of the Carolinas is of the highest importance in the history of the mapping of the Province of Carolina.
While the first contact with Cape Fear was made by Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524, there was no English exploration of the region for nearly 150 years. William Hilton conducted the first English exploration of the Cape Fear region in 1662, on behalf of the New England Company. Hilton he sailed from Boston, entered the Cape Fear River, and proceeded upstream to an area near modern Wilmington. The purpose of the voyage was to establish settlement potential for the Carolinas. The manuscript account of Hilton's expedition gives a detailed account of the region, the animals and plants seen, and notes on the potential for agriculture.
While the Hilton account does not include a map, a chart of the voyage was drawn by Nicholas Shapley, in November, 1662. The New England Company's plan for colonization ended when Charles II granted eight of his courtiers the Proprietorship of the Province of Carolina, on March 20, 1663. The Proprietors retained Hilton, who in 1663 led a group of settlers from Barbados on a second expedition to the Carolinas, which resulted in the failed Charles Town colony, which was abandoned in 1667. In 1664, a printed account of the second Hilton expedition appeared under the title A RELATION OF A Discouery lately made on the Coast of FLORIDA. This work did not include a map.
It was not until 1666 that the accounts of the two Hilton expeditions were consolidated in the form of a printed map. In some examples of Robert Horne's promotional tract, A Brief DESCRIPTION OF The Province OF CAROLINA On the COASTS of FLOREDA, Horne includes a map of the Carolina Colony, which was an amalgam of Shapley's manuscript map of the first expedition, and Hilton's account of the second, and some additional information from another undisclosed source, including soundings. This very important map is the first printed map devoted to the Carolinas, first to use the name Carolina in the title and the first to name Cape Fear by its modern name. Previous maps had applied this name (in different forms) to what is now Cape Lookout, at the southern extremity of the Cape Hatteras Banks.
The map depicts the region from Cape Henry to just beyond Cape Royal. Ashley River and Cooper River also appear for the first time on a printed map. As noted by Cummings, the pamphlet is now very rare and the map itself still rarer, as it is usually not found in the extant copies (Cumming 60). The pamphlet, which may not have been authored by Horne, was intended to promote emigration to the newly formed Carolina Colony. The pamphlet contains a brief description of the geography of Carolina, followed by a statement about the Cape Fear (Clarendon County) settlement. The pamphlet notes that the colony was established by May 29, 1664 and had grown to about 800 persons with good houses and forts. A report on the quality of the land and the trees growing there is designed to tempt the would-be settler.
Among the six Privileges of the colonists are full and free Liberty of Conscience, freedom from Custom for all Wine, Silk, Raisins, Currance, Oyl, Olives, and Almonds, and the authority to choose annually from among themselves a certain Number of Men, according to their divisions, which constitute the General Assembly.... Finally there is a special invitation to all Artificers, as Carpenters, Wheel-rights, Joyners, Coopers, Bricklayers, Smiths, or diligent Husbandmen and Labourers ... to "repair to Mr. Matthew Wilkinson, Ironmonger, at the Sign of the Three Feathers in Bishopsgate-street, where they may be informed when the Ships will be ready, and what they must carry with them.